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Roads crews, police  busy again during latest blast of severe weather

Helping out - Terry Godreau helped neighbour Frances Norlen get out of her driveway on Sideroad 19 in Centre Wellington on Saturday after a storm dumped between 10 and 20 centimeters of snow. The storm also closed Highway 6 from Fergus to Mount Forest from Friday evening until early Sunday.  photo by Kris Svela

Roads crews, police busy again during latest blast of severe weather

by Kris Svela

WELLINGTON CTY. - Residents might be longing for spring and warmer temperatures after the heavy snowfalls, high winds and bitter cold last weekend and early this week, which cancelled events, closed highways and forced the closure of a county library.

The worst winter to hit the area in recent memory continued, starting when an arctic blast swept through the county on Jan. 24, with snow and drifting snow forcing the OPP to close Highway 6 from Fergus to Arthur.

The closure was extended to Mount Forest on Saturday after heavy snowfall throughout the northern part of the county.

But it was Arthur that bore the brunt of the closures, being virtually cut off from Friday afternoon until early Sunday, with both Highway 6 and Highway 9 closed.

Wellington North road crews worked to keep township roads and streets cleared, despite the closure of Highway 6.

“Wellington North’s roads staff worked throughout the weekend and continue to try and keep the roads that fall within our responsibility clear and open,” township CAO Mike Givens said on Monday.

The weather forced the cancellation of the Jan. 27 Wellington North council meeting in the evening.

In Minto, crews worked overtime to clear roads and streets and the town contemplated pulling its plows off the roads on Jan. 25 and again on Jan. 27.

Minto CAO/Clerk Bill White cautioned residents to stay off town roads, if possible, on Monday.

“Road conditions have been deteriorating this morning especially in rural areas due to snow squalls, high winds and drifting,” White said in media release Monday morning.

“Unless conditions improve and the squall line shifts, plows will be off the roads by noon today. Conditions continue to be monitored.”

On Saturday evening Centre Wellington Mayor Joanne Ross-Zuj said township works crews were also kept busy clearing roads and streets, as they were in other county municipalities.

Ross-Zuj said crews were also sent out to assist trucks that had gone into the ditch on township sideroads attempting to get around the Highway 6 closure on Jan. 25.

OPP media relations officer Bob Bortolato said police laid charges regarding drivers on closed roads.

“Four drivers were charged with driving a close highway,” he said.

Overall, the OPP responded to 52 collisions in the county.

Bortolato said all roads north of Alma (Wellington Road 17) were road closed at around 9pm on Friday night.

County communications manager Andrea Ravensdale said county officials attempted to keep residents informed of road conditions and closure of county facilities using emails and Twitter.

“The County of Wellington worked with our local OPP to communicate important messages to residents,” said Ravensdale. “During any type of storm it is important for residents to listen to their local radio station and check the county’s website for updates and facility closures.”

County emergency coordinator Linda Dickson said the county kept up-to-date on information provided by OPP and county roads personnel on road conditions. She said because there was no emergency declared, county officials only monitored conditions.

“If we are looking at blizzard conditions and something of long duration then we would definitely be consulting with the municipalities,” said Dickson.

“It is very difficult to respond to snow squalls as they are constantly moving and shifting with the wind direction. Best we can do is to encourage everyone not to drive if they don’t have too.  If they do they should have a fully charged cell phone, full tank of gas (travel may take longer and it helps weigh your vehicle down), a car kit, warm clothes and check weather and road conditions before heading out.”

County roads crews, according to operations manager Paul Johnson, were kept busy over the weekend with 28 plows out.

“We also made use of four of our own tractor snowblowers and hired in private companies with much larger machines to help blow back snowbanks,” Johnson said in an email. “We have about 60 seasonal and full time staff that worked during various parts of the storm.”

The cold weather continued into Wednesday but was expected to dissipate by this weekend.


January 31, 2014


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